just procrastinating

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I just wasted about an hour of my life reading through this list of celebrity gossip. A lot is seems questionable because about every other person is either gay or bi, which I kind of doubt is true. (like is James Garner really a "Friend of Dorothy"?) Also the editor of this list has it in for Conserative politicians. But some of the descriptions match what I would have expected.

Sink or Swim
Almost every purchase I make goes on my United Mileage Plus Visa so I have a vested interest in seeing United Airlines succeed. That being said, I have to agree with Kevin at Truck and Barter here that it is time for United to learn to live without government loan guarantees. Here is his summary:
If they cannot climb out of bankruptcy on their own, perhaps they don't deserve to survive. I say let 'em fail!

There would be a market upheaval if the second largest carrier failed. I'm not going to judge whether this would be "good" or "bad" in a welfare sense, but clearly creative destruction is sweeping through the airline industry.
It would be a shame if they failed, but they need to learn how to make money. As Southwest and Jet Blue have proven, you can make money in air travel.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Whose Money?
James Lileks has a funny discussion with a Kerry supporter about tax cuts. Here is why it doesn't make any sense to argue about with liberals about tax cuts. People just have completely different mindsets about who owns what. Here is the crux their discussion:
"Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?"

"They didn’t give it to me. They just took less of my money."

That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:

"Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money."
You just can't argue with that logic.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Strong Kid
Did you read this story about the kid Germany with the big muscles? Apparently this kid has some kind of genetic mutation such that it "blocks production of a protein called myostatin that limits muscle growth". So the kid is really strong for his age, and could be probably be a pretty amazing athlete if it doesn't end up affecting his heart.

You know, you never really see athletic achievement that is on a completely different level from the current competition. You know like with the 100 meters, you can't be competitive unless you run under it in under 10 seconds. If there is a bell curve for speed, all of the athletes are grouped somewhere in very far right end of it: the 9.9s and 9.8s, but there aren't any outliers up there. Wouldn't it be sweet if some dude just walked in and ran an 8.2 all of a sudden? Maybe this kid could be like that.

You could argue that a Jordan or a Gretzky were outliers, but even then I think that while they were the best of their generation, they weren't all that much better than the next best player.

Bruce Should Stay Bald
Here is an article that says Bruce Willis is considering a "revolutionary treatment" to cure his baldness:
Hollywood action star Bruce Willis is reportedly planning to try a revolutionary treatment to cure his baldness.

The 49-year-old Die Hard star is said to have consulted experts about a new procedure that replaces crucial cells.

The "hair cloning" treatment has so far only been tested on rodents and has still to be approved by the US government.

"Bruce wants to make sure it is safe, but is very interested in going ahead it is available," a friend told The Sun.
I can't imagine Bruce Willis walking around with a head full of hair, but if that's what he wants, it's his mellon.

But anyway, why isn't there a real cure for baldness yet? I'm OK now, but at least compared to pictures from high school, it is clear that my forehead is growing, or something. Back then, I fully expected that this would be solved by now.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Tennis Mistakes
I think there is a little unfair piling on going on here. I saw the tie-breaker between Venus Williams and Karolina Sprem earlier today on ESPN and it was quite clear that everyone was confused. For me to expect a 19-year old speak up in front of a veteran player, seasoned officials and crowd that were equally as clueless would be a bit much, considering that at 34, I am just about at the point where I might be confident enough to do that. Even then, I would be wondering if I was just imagining things.

Here are some comments by sister Serena and Andy Roddick that probably were best kept to themselves:
"I think as a competitor and as a professional, you should be able to distinguish right from wrong," Serena Williams said, when asked what she would do if she were ever handed a free point. "I've never been in a situation like that before. But you know, I'm an honest individual. So if I were in that situation, I know I would make the right choice."

"Personally, I'd have trouble just taking a point from someone," Roddick said. "You know I've heard that no one noticed that stuff, but if it's the biggest match of your life, I'm figuring you know what the score is. I'd have a real issue just pretending like nothing was wrong and just taking the point."
The ESPN guys mentioned that this would only happen at Wimbledon, because in the US or even in France the crowd would be rumbling about it and they wouldn't be able to keep playing until it was resolved.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Packing Up
We started packing a little bit this weekend for our upcoming move, which actually isn't until July 9. My wife and I have very different styles when it comes to packing. I am of the "just throw the stuff in a box or a garbage bag, I'm sure it will fine" school, whereas she believes that everything needs to be bubble wrapped, twice.

Also, we have been trying get rid of some of our older stuff, but I am a complete pack rat and have strong attachments to stuff as silly as old receipts and ticket stubs. So the conversations around the house go a bit like this:

Her: "Why are you saving these old T-Shirts? They have holes in them and you never wear them."
Dave: "I'd sooner die than throw those away. Those are from college and are very important to me."
Her: "What about the stuff in this box that hasn't been unpacked since our last move,"
Dave: "If there was a fire in this house that box is the first thing I'd rescue."

Friday, June 25, 2004

More Proof That Dogs Are Great
Not that any more is needed, but here is a cool story about a puppy that saved an entire neighborhood:
A Canadian man, driving a car packed with weapons and ammunition, was intent on killing as many people as possible in a Toronto neighbourhood but gave up the plan at the last minute when he encountered a friendly dog, police say.

The middle-aged man, who police say is mentally disturbed, had planned to carry out the shooting spree on Wednesday to ensure he would be put in jail permanently.

Police say he had set himself up in an east-end park to load his weapons and then planned to drive around shooting.

He told police that a dog then approached and started playing with him.

Police say the encounter melted the man's heart, and he then went in search of police to give himself up.
Dogs really are looking out for us. If he would have ran into a cat, that whole town would be gone by now.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Be Nice To Me
I've been getting hounded by Virginia Blood services for the past three months, so decided I'd go give blood today to get them off my back. I try to give blood as often as can, but usually find some excuse or another to keep from doing it regularly.

Back when I worked for the Federal Government, the bloodmobile would come around on Friday every 2 months or so, and they would give us 4 hours of vacation time if you gave blood. What a sweet deal! So basically every couple of months I would give blood and get to take the afternoon off. Not only that, but as the nurse said today, "be careful if you drink alcohol, because one drink will feel like three". So four hours off and a cheap buzz to boot. You can't beat that.

Steroids in Track
This is kind of a bummer. Tim Montgomery, the worlds fastest man who ran a 9.78 in the 100 meters has admitted that he used steroids. He could be banned for life. It's too bad, because I was looking forward to seeing him in the 100 meters this year.

Now that he has come out, how much longer do you give his girlfriend Marion Jones? I suppose she could be telling the truth, but there looks to be a lot of steroid use around her. First her husband, now her boyfriend and also her training partner Michele Collins. When she got up last week and gave her little speech, I don't think I'm the only one who thought "the lady doth protest too much, methinks".

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Olsen Twin
Not that I pay much attention to the Olsen Twins, but I did notice that one of them was looking a little too scrawny, an unhealthy kind of scrawny. So I see that she, Mary-Kate, is checking into some kind of Clinic for an "eating-related issue". Good for her.

I work out at U Va's gym and I almost every time I go there I notice at least one girl who quite obviously has an "eating-related issue". I am tempted to go up to them, grab them by the wrist and drag them to Popeye's or something, but that's actually illegal, especially when you're married. But, you know, it would be for their own good.

Moving Companies Seem Kinda Sleazy
This is the first time that we have had to hire a professional moving company to move our stuff. Every other time we've moved we just got a Uhaul, but now we just have too much stuff to do it ourselves. So I have been getting estimates from various companies and have been learning a lot about the moving industry. There is a used-car-sales feel to these estimates, so I'm glad I found this website MovingScam, because two of the moving companies that have been in contact with me are blacklisted there. I didn't realize that there were so may scam artists in the moving industry, and that it is hard to sue them if they damage or steal your stuff because of some glitch in the interstate commerce laws.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Clinton Book
I have been feeling kind of nostalgic for the Clinton era recently, that carefree decade of my 20s, and thought I thought about buying his book. But then I read some of the reviews and decided that there is no way I can make it through 950 pages of his life. Especially after seeing his interview on 60 Minutes, which reminded me why I got pissed at him in the first place.

He still just doesn't seem to get it, and has never really been contrite about lying in public. They showed clips of that whole Gennifer Flowers interview when he was running for President in '92, and he mentioned how he was pissed at Steve Kroft for asking him those questions. Of course, later we find out that he was flat out lying the entire time. You can't be indignant when you are the one who is lying.

Via Businesspundit, this list called "How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People". Here are two that strike a chord with me:
1. When an employee is in your office to talk with you, don’t hesitate to answer your phone.

13. Hold lots of meetings and make sure they have an unfocused agenda. Allow the conversation to meander aimlessly, permitting one tangential comment to give license to the next. Never cut off a rambling participant and if anyone has a good idea, compel that person to assume responsibility for a new committee to pursue the idea. End each meeting with no action items.
I can't stand when I am in someone's office and talking about work related stuff and they answer their phone without even a "Oh, I better take this. Could you excuse me?" I used to just wait around and avert my eyes, as if I wasn't trying to listen in, but now I usually just walk out and let that person follow up later. It is actually a rude power play and it happens to me in interviews all the time as well.

I hate meetings, mostly for the reasons above. Some people just love to hear themselves talk. Not me. If I have to schedule one I always make sure that they over as fast as possible an on topic (unless it's a cool group and we start gossiping, that's encouraged). I used to have a boss who felt that if the meeting didn't fill the time allotted that we were somehow "finishing up early". As if the hour, or 2 hours scheduled were the actual time required to fully address the topic.

I can appreciate that people have different styles at work: some are talkers, some are listeners, or thinkers, etc., but don't drag down the group because you need to think out loud.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Here is something that seems about as well thought out as the "New Coke", but maybe that's the idea:
She was born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone and has had many nicknames, including The Material Girl, but the entertainer, businesswoman, children's book author, wife and mother says she's ready for a new name: one reflecting her religious beliefs.

Madonna - who has for years been a believer in Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism - says she has chosen the Hebrew name Esther.
Esther? OK, whatever. Madonna probably has the highest success to talent ratio of anyone ever, but I think she is running out of ideas. It might be a good idea to just slowly fade away at this point.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

That Was Quick
I watched the Bachelor the last time around and I am not surprised that Jesse and Jessica (?) decided to split. I have watched most of these and this is kind of funny:
None of the previous "Bachelor" bachelors — Alex Michel, Aaron Buerge, Andrew Firestone and Bob Guiney — has ended up with the women they chose on the show.
Here is a quick recap from my understanding: Alex might be gay. Aaron wasn't ready or mature enough to be married. Andrew Firestone should have stuck with Jen, I liked her. But why was he on the show? Bob got less likeable as he became the bachelor. Jesse, again, why was this guy on the show? He is a 25 year old pro football player. Why would he want to be married?

The Chicago Tribune has its second annual list of best magazines here. I subscribe to 3 magazines, 2 of which are on the list: Reason and Business Week at #13 and #15, respectively. I also subscribe to Fortune. I don't really read them like I used to, because it seems like I get most of my news from the Internet nowadays.

Anyway, I have been a Reason subscriber since 1996, when my buddy Geof bought me a subscription when I went off to business school in an attempt to keep me from being swayed by liberal academia. So it is nice to see them doing well, at least on this list.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Don't Drive Fast When It's Raining
Lots of rain today along I-81 this afternoon on the way back today, which meant lots white knuckle driving and accidents. I hate that ominous feeling of looking into a sky of dark gray ahead, and seeing the survivors of the storm coming with their lights on in the opposite direction. When rain really starts coming and visibility is zero, I am tempted to just pull over, but you can't really do that or you risk getting rear ended.

As we were just getting into the serious stuff I saw a truck moving a little too fast for conditions behind me and moved over into the right lane for him. A minute later, Mr. Speedy Truckdriver was jackknived in the median of the freeway. Traffic slowed in front of him and he couldn't stop in time. Oops.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Outta Town Again
I have to head on down to Knoxville tomorrow morning to get there in time for a 1:30 house inspection. The house we wanted down there accepted our offer and it is contingent upon there being no material defects in the place, so one of us needs to be there for the inspection and make sure everything is AOK. And being as that I am no longer an income producing member of our household, that job lands in my lap.

So check back here Thursday or so...

If You're So Smart, Why Are You in HR?
Craig Newmark links to this somewhat infuriating article about how the doofuses in HR try to determine a candidate's true personality. Here's a few examples of how clever they think they are:
Some interviewers have been known to call job seekers at home and pose as telemarketers to gauge how those candidates react. Are they rude? Do they yell? Or are they polite but insistent that they don't want to purchase anything?

How a candidate deals with an annoying telemarketing call tells the company something about how you would deal with an annoying client.
Let me just stop here. It does no such thing. There is absolutely no similarity between someone who calls you trying to get to you give them money, and an annoying client, who is usually someone who helps pay your salary.

Here is more of this crap:
One of Lance's favorite behavior tests is to drop her pen at some point during the interview and see how the candidate reacts. She makes sure to drop it an equal distance from herself and the job seeker.

"When they are telling you that they are customer-oriented and you drop your pen and they don't notice or they don't pick it up, it's a disconnect between how they are and what they are saying," she said.
I guarantee this has never happened and she is lying. It's a pen, not a bean bag. She can't just drop it and make sure it lands "equal distance from herself and the job seeker". There are just to many variables. Its going to be closer to one person 90% of the time. Usually if a female drops something near me I will make an effort to at least appear gentlemanly, but if it is a dude, unless it falls at my feet, I'm probably not going to move.

Last one:
Lunch or dinner meetings also are ideal settings for giving away hidden personality traits. Lance said she has heard of hiring managers who spill something on a candidate to see how he or she reacts. Some hiring managers will have a potential candidate drive them to a lunch meeting to see what kind of driver he or she is: hurried and aggressive, or courteous and careful?
If someone spills something on me and I later find out it was just a test to see how I would react, what I usually do is find that person's car and slash their tires, just to see how they'd react.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Five Years Ago
I got married five years ago today. The wife and I went out to a nice dinner tonight and looked through our pictures from the wedding when we got back. That really was a fun day. It kind of sucks that you can really only have one party in your adult life where all of (or most of) your friends and family will be together in one place.

Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams is on ABC tonight and Kevin Costner and others are doing a bit of a retrospective between breaks. He just mentioned that the one line he had trouble with was when he said "have a catch" instead of "play catch". Costner said that he thought it sounded stupid and that no one said it that way, which is what I thought as well, but apparently that is an East coast way of saying it.

Anyway, Field of Dreams is a classic and I well up every time I see it, for reasons that I can't really explain.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Bank Error
Here is a funny story about a guy who is in big trouble because he thought he thought that $60,000 had suddenly materialized in his bank account. His attorney is unconvincing:
Defense attorney Kevin Floyd said Harris mistakenly thought the money belonged to him.

"He didn't go out and take a trip to Tahiti," Floyd said Wednesday after the first day of testimony. "He paid bills and did what normal people do. He was misled by bank personnel that the money was his."
I'm pretty sure he knew exactly whose money it was and that is why he withdrew over 50 grand in one day.

This happened to me when I was about 20. I deposited a check from a summer job for about $240 and when I looked at my balance the next day it was higher than I expected. Apparently the teller must have added an extra zero, so I was up $2160! But my gains were temporary. The following day I checked my balance and it was back down to its original paltry level. But back then, I probably would have spent it if it lasted over a week or so. In my mind I thought, well, they do have a monopoly card that allows you to collect money for this sort of thing.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Speaking of Singers
I saw the Counting Crows on the Today show a couple of weeks ago, and just saw Shrek 2, so I have been thinking about Adam Duritz lately. Adam is turning 40 this year, which is no big deal, but maybe it's time to lose the Sideshow Bob hairdo. He had a good run with the dreadlocks, but now that they are simply hair extensions, maybe it's time to move on. I'm not one to talk, since I have had the same hairstyle since I was 15, but hey, life goes on.

Just Shut Up and Sing
Nobody should care what a somewhat pudgier singer from the 80s thinks about American politics. I guess there is some backlash from Morrissey's recent comments that he wished it was Bush who was dead instead of Reagan. The backlash shouldn't surprise anyone, considering Morrissey's original fans are now in their 30s and 40s and many have made the turn to the darkside. With performers whose work I admire, I usually just let this stuff slide, but hoping that people die isn't really an admirable characteristic.

But, whatever. If I were to throw away CD's because I didn't like the band's politics, I'm not going to be left with all that much to listen to.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Soprano's Finale
On Sunday night, I caught the final Sopranos episode this season. There is an interesting discussion over at Slate about the final episode, and here is something that I missed by one of the mob experts, Jerry Capeci:
Tony's moral dilemma over feeling guilty for his cousin's time in the slammer always seemed just a bit much to me. They never showed great affection for each other, and if Tony can murder Adriana without missing a beat, then the family cancer that Tony B. was should have been easy for him to excise. It isn't like Tony B. was a boon to the gang or to this year's plot turns. He had two moods, sullen or violent beyond obvious motivation. Besides, and I think you may have brought this up before Jeff, his death was not unexpected: Buscemi's characters always end up in the wood chipper (remember Fargo?).
This episode really did a great job of emphasizing how difficult it is to be the boss. If I were a mob guy, I would hate to be stuck as some mid-level Captain like Paulie, but being the boss apparently ain't easy.

I like the way they contrasted Tony's life and his son A.J.'s spoiled existence. Here Tony was out hoofing it home after almost getting pinched by the Feds while A.J. sits at home talking on the phone like a high school chick.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Shrek 2
I saw Shrek 2 last night. I liked it, but it wasn't quite up to the first movie. It seemed to drag a little bit and there were about half as many laughs as in the first movie. But there were a couple of really funny moments. I'd give it 3 stars, if anyone cared.

One thing about the animation. It is getting so good that you have to wonder how long it will be before these Pixar/Dreamworks things become indistinguishable from the real thing. They still can't quite nail normal human movement like walking, but they are close. I was impressed by the skin of some of the more human characters like the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming guy.

New Pad?
So I just got back from a tortuous four days in Knoxville looking for a new place to live. I always liked looking at houses and it's kinda fun to do when you aren't really looking to move. It kinda sucks when you need to find a place in four days and don't know Jack Squat about the city. There was a lot of driving around like a tourist, constantly being in the wrong lane, missing turns (which I hate), and basically being clueless. In the end we made an offer on a place that is a bit of a fixer up-er, it is in foreclosure (because of a divorce), but we left not knowing if the bank accepted our lowball bid. So we will see how this all plays out over the next couple of days.

Knoxville isn't quite what I expected, but my first impression was that it was a lot like a warmer Toledo, or maybe a smaller Cincinnati. It's on the river and has riverboats like Cinci does, but it is on a much smaller scale. Like Toledo, or any city really, it is loaded with strip malls.

The people there speak with a heavy southern accent, not like here in Central Virginia where the accent is slight and speech is more deliberate. The people were friendly, but it was the kind of friendly that makes more suspicious folks from up North reach for their wallets just to make sure everything is where it's supposed to be.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Another Trip
I'm going out of town tomorrow for three or four days to look at real estate in Knoxville, TN, which is where we are moving in about 5 weeks. We were originally going to buy and then decided to that it would make sense to rent for awhile, and are now back to thinking about buying. So we are clueless. Renting would be a great idea because it would give us some time to live there and get the real scoop on whatever neighborhoods we would like. The problem with renting is that we would have to move twice and put a bunch of stuff in storage. Also we are somewhat limited in what we can rent because of out little brown friend. So it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days.

So again, if you are looking for anything new over here, don't look until Tuesday or Wednesday or so.

Don't you just hate it when you get so drunk that you black out, and then come to realize that you had a great time but can't remember any of it? Talk to this guy.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Give This Man a Hand
There has gotta be a perfectly sensible explanation for this:
A boat party in an exclusive area of Long Island Sunday night was interrupted - when a severed human hand mysteriously dropped out of the sky onto the deck of a boat, police said yesterday.

The bizarre incident occurred in the water just off the Lawrence Village Marina, where a group of boats had gathered to have a party.

One owner was in the cabin when "he heard a noise, goes out to check and finds the hand on the rear deck of the boat," said Nassau Detective Sgt. John Azzata. "At this point, we don't have a clue where it came from. It's a mystery."
WTF? Via Dave Barry.

Low Carb Wine?
Here is a sign that the "low carb" fad is getting out of hand: low carb wine. Here is an excerpt that I agree with:
Some look askance at the idea of drinking wine by the numbers.

"For the non-generic wine market, I think it'd be a detriment. Taking wine out of its more craftsmanship positioning and putting it into the cereal category," said Erica Valentine, co-owner of the Vineyard Outlet, a Napa-based wine shop.

"You're drinking wine because of enjoyment. If you're counting calories you probably shouldn't be drinking wine," she added with a chuckle.
Something tells me the low carb phenomenon is going to have a shorter life than whatever fad preceded it. Maybe it was the low-carb Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream that my wife bought, which we threw away after eating a couple of spoonfuls. But I will agree that there is something to eating fewer carbs. I've noticed that if I just cut the amount of bread, and bread-type foods I eat in half, I usually lose weight.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Odd News
Here is a phrase you don't read everyday. Regarding Jason Grisham, who miraculously survived an encounter with 69,000 Volts of electricity, the police had this to say:
Grisham ``appeared to have extensive burn marks on his chest and his pants appeared to have exploded,'' police said.
His pants appeared to have exploded. Ouch.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of exploding pants, that reminds me of this little story I read yesterday via Fark about Halle Berry:
The stunning actress has been on an intense exercise regime to shape up for her role in 'Catwoman' and has been drinking protein shakes to help enhance her muscles.

But she has discovered the drinks have given her some unwanted side effects.

Halle confessed: "It was wicked stuff. I had the worst gas in the world!"
Fascinating story.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

TSA Screeners
Via Reason, this article in the Chicago Sun-times about reversing the law that federalized the airport security screener jobs. The libertarian in me says privatize everything, but come on, maybe we need to give this a little more time.

My flying experience is somewhat limited since Sept. 11, maybe a dozen flights or so since then. But I think that they seem to be a doing a pretty good job, and I just feel like they are more professional and trustworthy than the clowns I used to see at Dulles who worked for Argenbright, that gave us Sept. 11 in the first place. I agree that the TSA should work to speed things up a bit, but I don't see how privatizing this (again) would help in that area, unless you could hire more because they would be cheaper. But didn't we, or someone, decide that cheaper meant we got less skilled employees? However they do need to speed things up because the 2 hour wait in Atlanta today was inexcusable.

Radley Balko at The Agitator has an article in Time this week about obesity and what the government should do about it. His answer, which I agree with fully: "If you aren't responsible for what you put into your mouth, chew and swallow, what's left that you are you responsible for?"

Anyway, he mentions how Time Magazine uses the BMI:
TIME embraces the Body Mass Index (BMI) throughout the issue as supreme arbiter of "obese" and "overweight," without a hint of skepticism...
I've been working out a bit harder recently and eating these protein shakes after my workouts for a couple of months now. And they work. Result: I am now officially overweight according to my BMI. I am 5'11" and now 180 lbs, so that is a 25.1 BMI which just puts me into the overweight category, but I really don't think I look it. The BMI is a just a useless measure if you have any muscle on you at all.

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